Trinity beats Wayne Academy

Published 12:54 am Saturday, November 5, 2011

Trinity Episcopal’s Tanner Cage muscles his way down the field against Wayne Academy’s Tyson Stanley Friday night during the first round of the MAIS Class AA South State playoffs. The Saints beat the Jaguars 21-0. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Trinity Episcopal’s usually high-powered offense was more mellow Friday night against Wayne Academy in the first round of the MAIS Class AA playoffs.

Fortunately for the Saints, the defense was there to pick up the slack as Trinity got the shutout 21-0.

On a night that celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 Trinity state championship at halftime, the Saints played a largely ball-control offense and relied on its defense to keep it from getting close.

“In Double-A playoffs, it’s a battle just to win,” Trinity head coach David King said. “It’s a test, and we advanced. I knew Wayne was a good football team, and I was proud of our football team.

“We weren’t as sharp offensively as we normally are, but they had a good game plan, and it became a different type of game, maybe a score or two here, so I was a little more selective with our play calling. I didn’t want to turn the ball over when our defense was playing so well.”

On the first drive of the game, Wayne Academy had gotten two first downs before Trinity forced the Jaguars into a third-and-long situation near the 50-yard line. A good pass rush by Trinity forced Wayne quarterback Blake Pugh into making an ill-advised throw.

And Trinity defender Tanner Cage was there to greet it, intercepting the ball and running it back 57 yards for a touchdown.

Trinity drove the ball downfield later in the first half to set up first and goal from the Wayne 9-yard line, and Tip McKenzie caught a 9-yard pass from quarterback Scott Turner with 1:54 left in the first.

The game was largely back-and-forth from there on, with Trinity taking the 14-0 lead into the half. Wayne threatened to score several times, but Trinity always managed to buckle down, getting several stops on fourth down in the red zone.

“I thought we set the tone early,” Saints’ defensive coordinator Richy Spears said. “Once we were able to stop the run, and we got up on them, they had to start throwing the ball, and that’s not really what they wanted to do. If we can stop the run, and they spread it out, that helps us.”

After it looked like the Saints wouldn’t be able to manage another score late into the fourth, Turner finally connected with Cage downfield on a 44-yard pass to make it first and goal from the 5. Trinity’s Caleb Cross then punched it in with 5:50 left in the game.

The Jaguars once again got into Trinity’s red zone toward the end of the game, but a fumble recovery by Trinity with 2:52 sealed the shutout. Not even a late fumble by the Saints near midfield with five seconds left allowed Wayne to do anything but run the clock out.

Turner led Trinity in rushing with 67 yards, and he was 10-for-19 in passing with 175 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Tip McKenzie led in receiving with five catches for 52 yards and one touchdown. He also tallied 29 yards on the ground. Cage had 46 yards rushing.

With Centreville Academy beating Lamar School 41-21 in their first-round game, the Saints and Tigers are set for a rematch of their Aug. 26 game that the Saints won 33-28 on a last-second play.

“We’re excited to be playing another week of football,” King said.

“Centreville is outstanding, and we’re going to have to play our best game of the season. But I think our best game of the season is still ahead of us. It’ll be a testing week, but I think our kids are ready to strap it on and play against one of the best teams in the state.”

Trinity improved to 10-2 overall.